Joliet, Ill. –, a national advocate and leader for character development in schools and communities, recently announced that 84 schools and 7 districts in 15 states are certified as National Schools of Character. Among these honorees is Forest Park I.E. School, the first Joliet school to be recognized as a National School of Character and the only Illinois National School of Character this year. 

 “We are pleased to announce and celebrate the schools and school districts who have earned this national recognition,” said Arthur Schwartz, Ed.D., president of “Each of these schools and school districts has put in place a comprehensive approach to help their students understand, care about, and consistently practice the core values that will enable them to flourish in school, in relationships, in the workplace, and as citizens.” 

“Mr. Jacob Darley, principal, along with the Forest Park I.E. faculty and staff have created a school-wide character-building environment based on four pillars: responsibility, resourcefulness, respectfulness and responsiveness. These pillars permeate the entire school curriculum, service projects and school climate where the whole child philosophy cultivates character development in each child,” said Madonna Murphy, Ph.D., USF College of Education professor and Illinois Schools of Character Program coordinator. “The committee was especially impressed by the exemplary intrinsic motivation program at the school.  Forest Park I.E. School has a goal to help develop students of character who will grow to become productive members of society who are responsive to the needs of others.”

Joliet Public Schools District 86 Superintendent Theresa Rouse, Ed.D., commends the entire Forest Park I.E. School community on the honor.

“On behalf of the Joliet Public Schools District 86 Board of School Inspectors and the entire administration, we congratulate Forest Park on this national recognition. I applaud the students, staff, and parents for working together to make Forest Park a successful school,” Rouse said.

The Illinois Schools of Character program is sponsored by the College of Education at the University of St. Francis and the Will County Character Coalition established by James Glasgow, Will County States Attorney. The goal is to promote character education throughout Will County, in schools, youth organizations, parks and sports programs. 

After being named National Schools of Character, schools serve as models and mentors, helping other educators transform their school cultures and improve academics and student behavior. Darley and the Forest Park I.E. Character Committee are willing to assist any Joliet school seeking to become a National School of Character.

For more information about Schools of Character program, visit or contact Madonna Murphy at

: :

Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

# # #